Space Exploration Technologies Corp., or SpaceX, will attempt to fly one of its used Falcon 9 rockets next week at 4:59 p.m. Wednesday (March 29) from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
'A Wright Brothers Moment For Space'
A breakthrough milestone for SpaceX, this is the first time a used rocket will set off for space.
Falcon 9 first lifted off back in April 2016 to complete a resupply mission to the International Space Station. Flying faster than 4,000 miles per hour, the iconic rocket is also the first vessel to land successfully on a drone ship sailing across the Atlantic Ocean.
"This is a Wright Brothers moment for space. It's as important as the first plane taking off and landing and taking off again," Phil Larson, a former space policy adviser to President Barack Obama and SpaceX senior manager, said.
This time, the refurbished Falcon 9 rocket will deliver the SES-10 satellite into orbit for Luxembourg-based SES SA, which is SpaceX's first commercial client.
Interestingly, rumor has it, SpaceX will recover Falcon 9 after this flight and attempt a third launch.
If it succeeds, the launch would prove the possibility of rocket reusability, which SpaceX founder, Elon Musk, believes will also pave the way to lowering fuel costs and make space tourism a reality.
"In order for us to really open up access to space, we've got to achieve full and rapid reusability. And being able to do that for the primary rocket booster is going to be a huge impact on cost," the tech genius was quoted saying at KSC last April.
According to its website, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket comes with a hefty price tag of $54 million, with fuel for each mission costing roughly around $200,000 - about 0.4 percent of the total.
As of latest count, SpaceX now has a total of eight recovered rockets: three by land and five by sea. A source of immense pride for the country's leading space transportation company, the first rocket ever to be recovered is displayed at its headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
Before getting a second chance, it took around four months for SpaceX to recover, revamp, and get the Falcon 9 booster fly-ready again. This is what Gwynne Shotwell, the company's president and COO, revealed at an industry conference in Washington earlier this month.
She added that they're working on to slash the turnaround time to one day as SpaceX looks into reflying space rockets as frequently as commercial plane flights do.